02 September 2019

Finding your Masonic connections: give us a hand so we can help you

The Library and Museum at Freemasons Queensland is currently closed for family history research while we prepare for renovations.  During this time, we are also working on our indexes and archival finding aids so that we can provide accurate information to researchers.  Here are some hints to help you find information about your Masonic connection while we are closed.  When we reopen, having background information will also help us find more information if you require it.

To begin - we only hold records of membership relating to Freemasons in Queensland and Papua New Guinea. We do not hold information about partners of our members or their children.  Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation. There is no overarching Australian organisation - Freemasonry in Australia is composed of state-based organisations.  There is no world body for Freemasonry, it is organised on a national or state or provincial base depending on the country.  We use the term Freemasons Queensland to describe our operations, but our formal title is The United Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Queensland - shorted to UGLQ or Grand Lodge.

Before the United Grand Lodge of Freemasons of Queensland was formed in 1921 Freemasonry in Queensland was governed by what are known as District Grand Lodges administered by the countries from which the particular form of Freemasonry originated.  In Queensland, these were the United Grand Lodges of England, Grand Lodge of Ireland and the Grand Lodge of Scotland, which are separate organisations - we refer to these as jurisdictions. From 1904 to 1921 two Queensland Grand Lodges also administered Freemasonry in this State. These Queensland Lodges were the Grand Lodge of Queensland and Queensland Grand Lodge. Even though they were administered from overseas, records relating to the administration and membership are held from 1859.  This means you do not necessarily have to look overseas for your connection’s details.

Like all family and genealogical research, it is important to know the dates of birth and death of your connection so that you can research them using the sources available outside Freemasons Queensland.

So where can you look for information?

Ancestry.com   has digitised and indexed the membership rolls of the United Grand Lodge of England and the Grand Lodge of Ireland until up until 1921.  These can be searched only through a UK Heritage or World Heritage subscription to Ancestry.com.  If you do not have a subscription these records are available through the Library edition of Ancestry which may be available at your State or local library.   To search for your connection, use your person's name and the keyword Lodge and you may find an entry.  You can also use the Card Catalogue search -   Type in Lodge in the Keyword box - select England or Ireland and then search by name and location.   This may tell you when they first joined Freemasonry and under which jurisdiction.      

Use Trove to link your person's name with search terms such as Freemason, Masonic, Lodge and a locality for example Davis Yungaburra and Lodge will find the obituary of Charles Davis a founding member of Barrine Lodge at Yungaburra in Far North Queensland. Up until the 1960s there were frequent mentions of Freemasonry in the press so don't presume that there will be nothing.  A very useful source can be Funeral Notices which may have a separate notice inserted by the local Lodge and this will provide more information on where your connection might have attended Lodge.

Check your family papers and photographs -   is there a Certificate that gives the name of the Lodge, are there any clues in the family papers as to what organisations your person may have belonged to.  If your person had an apron or what we call Masonic jewels (but look like medals), there may be information on the back of the jewel which will help you.

Once you have found the locality of the Lodge your connection may have belonged to, check the relevant local history collection which may have a copy of the Lodge anniversary publication.  Individual lodges often published Lodge histories at significant anniversaries of their founding such as 50th, 75th, 100th and following anniversaries.

United Grand Lodge of Queensland produces a magazine.   This is variously called “The Ashlar” or “The Queensland Freemason” and copies are held at the State Library of Queensland although the holdings are not complete.  The issues of the magazine may contain items about individuals or Lodges which will help give context to your connection’s involvement in Freemasonry.

Some points to be aware of -

There were many organisations besides Freemasonry which used the term Lodge and Brother these include International Order of Oddfellows (IOOF), Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffalos known as RAOB or the Buffs, Good Templars or the Ancient Order of Foresters.  Even though you might find sources which mention the word Brother or Lodge it does not mean your person was a Freemason.  If there are family photos of people with people with aprons, sashes or other regalia they could be members of other Fraternal or Friendly societies so you may have to do some research using photos from large collections such as the State Library of Queensland.

Your person may have belonged to Freemasonry in another state or country so you may have to contact other jurisdictions.  They will advise you how to go about searching in their records.

For further information on Freemasonry in Queensland we have listed the following sources which may be available at your local library or at the State Library of Queensland, State Libraries in your state and the National Library. 

Introductory Materials

Lauder Dave Freemasonry and Freemasons in Queensland Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland Vol IV No 1 February 1990 pp 33- 41

It's no Secret: Real Men wear Aprons The story of Freemasonry in Australia, Masonic Care Sydney, 2010

Freemasons Queensland website

Freemasonry in Queensland

The history of Freemasonry in Queensland until 1959   The Centennial Story : The history of Freemasonry in Queensland Australia  over the first One Hundred Years  1859 - 1959. United Grand Lodge of Queensland, Brisbane 1959.

150 years of Queensland Freemasonry United Grand Lodge of Queensland, Brisbane, 2016 *

Fowles E W H and White E G (eds) The  Jubilee review of English Freemasonry in Queensland  Issued by the District Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of England in Queensland and published by the editors,  Brisbane, 1909

Harley C H Irish Freemasonry in Queensland,  RS Hews and Co Printers, Brisbane , 1930.

Budgen Wayne  Masonic Centres of Queensland  :  Concise histories of the construction and use of Freemason's Halls throughout the State of Queensland  ed.  by  Mechner Jeniffer A, St Lucia, Queensland W Budgen  2005 *

Information on the Grand Masters in Queensland can be found in Henderson Kent The Masonic Grand Masters of Australia Ian Drackford Publishing Pty Ltd Bayswater Australia 1988

* Copies of these publications are available for purchase at the Masonic Memorial Centre 311 Ann St Brisbane